January 29, 2021

Lucky. Grateful. Hopeful. These are the words Washington University Department of Orthopaedic Surgery faculty and staff use to describe the feeling of receiving their COVID-19 vaccination.

The Rollout
Vaccinations began December 17 on the Washington University Medical Campus, with the first round prioritizing patient-facing personnel age 50 and older, followed by those 40 and older. Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) and BJC healthcare workers have access to the Pfizer vaccine, clinically shown to offer an estimated 95% effective rate. Choosing to receive the vaccine is the best defense against the virus and is an important step toward eradicating community spread.

Jean Szerzinski receiving her COVID-19 vaccinationExcitement and Hope
When Jean Szerzinski, Center of Advanced Medicine – South County orthopedic nurse administrator, received her first dose, she remembered feeling a sense of relief knowing “The tide is turning on COVID.” Szerzinski, who volunteered to work at one of the WUSM/BJC vaccination clinics in December, recalled “It was a great experience to be a part of the COVID vaccination clinic. Everyone there – both clinic workers and those there to receive the vaccine – was upbeat, grateful and excited to get their first of two shots.”

Lisa Steinhoff, orthopedic nurse administrator for the Orthopedic Center in Chesterfield (pictured at the top), knew exactly how she felt when she received her first dose: excited. “This is part of history. We’ll talk about it with our kids and they’ll probably talk about it with their kids.” 

“This is our way forward,” says Charles Goldfarb, MD, Professor and Executive Vice Chair for the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. “It’s the return to our way of life. There are so many issues swirling in our country; this step forward feels like the first towards a more hopeful, positive future.”

Valuable Opportunity
While receiving the vaccine is voluntary at this time, it is a valuable opportunity and Department leadership encourages employees to take advantage. 

“With so much COVID in our community, coming to work every day, and with caring for a number of COVID+ patients, it was a wonderful feeling to receive the vaccine,” shares Regis O’Keefe, MD, PhD, the Fred C. Reynolds Professor and Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. “As a clinician-scientist, I am in awe of the creativity and innovation behind the vaccine, and grateful to the many people whose efforts are now making it widely available.”
O’Keefe adds, “It’s great to go home and not be fearful that I could infect members of my family, all of whom have been so careful during the pandemic. COVID is a bad disease and I encourage everyone to get the vaccine as soon as possible so we can get back to our normal lives.”

Next Steps
The State of Missouri announced on January 14 to move on to Phase 1B, allowing more people to register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This is an exciting step forward, and the health systems and regional health departments are eager to begin distributing vaccines to the broader community once available. BJC and WUSM are awaiting notification from the state as to when to expect to receive additional doses. See the latest at

Illinois residents may learn more through the Illinois Department of Public Health website. More information about vaccine distribution across BJC and WUSM is available at

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